A total of 1,357 more people were found to be HIV positive in Sindh during the first eight months of 2021 after their blood samples were screened at the blood banks in 24 districts of the province, officials of the Sindh Blood Transfusion Authority (SBTA) have revealed.
“During the first eight months of this year, around 455,742 donors donated their blood at 166 blood banks in the 24 districts of Sindh, of which 1,357 donors were found to be infected with HIV, which amounts to 0.29% of the samples,” Dr Durre Naz Jamal, the SBTA director, told a meeting of the provincial health department presided over by Sindh Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho.
“Of the 455,742 blood samples tested in the province, around 24,088 were found reactive or infected with either of five different diseases,” Dr Durre Naz said as she explained that 5.28% (24,088) of the donors were infected with one or more infectious diseases and were unfit for blood donations.
Blood samples in Pakistan are screened for five infectious diseases — HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, syphilis, and malaria — to prevent recipients from contracting these diseases through blood transfusion but sometimes, unscreened blood is transfused to people as most of the blood banks lack the facility of nucleic acid testing (NAT), a molecular technique for screening the donated blood.
The SBTA data presented to the provincial health minister revealed that 8,155 or 1.79% of blood donors in Sindh were infected with hepatitis B while 7,995 or 1.75% were infected with hepatitis C.
In addition to that, as many as 6,142 blood donors were found to be infected with syphilis, a sexually transmitted infection. The percentage of the donors infected with syphilis was 1.34, Dr Durre Naz said, adding that 448 blood donors had also been found to be infected with malaria.
According to the data presented to the health department, the highest number of blood donors infected with HIV were found in Karachi’s District East where 653 persons were found to have HIV in their blood, followed by District South of Karachi, where 431 blood donors were found to be infected with HIV.
Similarly, Karachi’s District South had the highest number of blood donors infected with hepatitis B and C, where 2,603 donors were found to be infected with HBV and 2,923 blood donors with HCV.